How to Prune a Rose Tree


The rose tree, or standard rose tree, differs from regular rose bushes in that they are cultivated to look like a tree. The top of the tree contains the ball-shaped blooms and leaves. The "trunk" of the rose tree is a slender cane approximately 1 meter in length, which is free from blooms and foliage. Pruning the rose tree is essential to keeping the tree healthy. The central cane is left untouched, while the flowering "top" part of the tree should be pruned and cut back during the early spring. This essential maintenance is key to keeping the tree fragrant and full of stunning blooms.

Step 1

Prune rose trees in the early spring, when the plant is still dormant and free of its leaves. Remove all dead and diseased wood from the tree using pruning shears, which are capable of making cuts up to 3/4 inches in diameter.

Step 2

Remove all canes that are crossing each other, and cut off all gnarled twigs and branches out of the center of the tree to allow light and oxygen to circulate within.

Step 3

Prune any canes that have grown beyond the rose's natural shape back to the first outward-facing bud above a five-leaflet leaf. Make sure the overall shape of the rose tree is balanced and symmetrical. This will ensure even growth as new leaves and flowers begin to grow during the blooming season.

Step 4

Remove debris like old twigs and rotten leaves from around the base of the tree to protect the bush with pests and disease, which lurk in winter debris. Remove all sucker shoots that sprout from the trunk and root of the tree. Cut them as close to the base as possible.

Step 5

Lightly prune roses during the blooming season. Deadhead or remove spent blooms to stimulate fresh blooms. Trim back leggy branches protruding from the natural shape of the tree.

Tips and Warnings

  • Always wear protective gloves when pruning roses, which have pointed and sharp thorns.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears


  • University of Illinois Extension: Pruning Roses
  • Rose Magazine: Pruning Roses
Keywords: rose tree, pruning roses, cutting roses

About this Author

Callie Barber is a writer and photographer in North Carolina. Her work has appeared in Forbes and Automotive News magazine. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in international studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.